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Try before you buy – hire cars as an extended test drive

For most people buying a new car is one of the most significant purchases that they will ever make, often only second in cost to their home. What’s more, it’s a purchase that many are predicting will become more expensive over the next few months.

So with so much at stake it’s important to feel 100% confident that it’s the car for you before you commit to buy. So far, so logical, but the standard dealership test-drive can only tell you so much. For example you’ll probably have the salesperson by your side who will be doing their utmost to play up the benefits and features of a particular model while glossing over any shortcomings that it may have. You’ll also probably be directed over a route by them – and one which will only last a few minutes. So most people would agree that this is hardly enough time to judge how a car performs in a number of different driving conditions.

That’s why more and more people are choosing to hire a model they are interested in buying and really putting it through its paces for a whole day or even longer. In this way, they can really see if it’s the car for them and it can also give the opportunity to compare a number of different variations on the same model, for example manual, automatic and even hybrids, to see which suits them best. Plus, unlike dealer test drives that will generally be restricted to A roads in the vicinity of the dealership, it gives the chance to try a car out everywhere from motorways to winding country lanes. And by using the car for different everyday purposes like going for the weekly supermarket shop it also gives a clearer idea of its practicality for a particular lifestyle.

However, if you are thinking about taking this route to choosing your new car there’s one important element that you should consider. Driving any car that you’re unfamiliar with may put you at an increased risk of having a bump, maybe because you misjudge your car’s width when squeezing through a tight gap or simply by underestimating its power and acceleration, and zooming straight into a wall or the back of another car at the slightest touch of the accelerator pedal. So it’s well worth considering safety measures you could take. That’s because If you do damage a hire car that’s when you’ll discover the very high excess that most rental companies apply, not to mention the comparatively expensive charges that they will make for repairs.

Many will offer you additional excess insurance to cover this when you hire the car but this, too, is likely to be very expensive. Far better to arrange excess insurance of your own from a leading expert in the field. What’s more the rates are the same whether you’re hiring a Ford or a Ferrari – though in the case of the latter you’ll probably be hiring it just for fun instead of seriously considering a purchase. So, if you’re thinking of investing thousands in a new car, it not only makes sense to try before you buy – you should also have the excess cover in place if you want real peace of mind that if you do have a scrape it won’t also prove to be a very expensive mistake.

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